It's hard parenting a teenager because they are not the same person from day to day, or even from hour to hour.
My son C. Peevie, as I have pointed out on more than one occasion, recently entered the mysterious, shadowy, unstable realm of teen-dom. Sometimes, like yesterday, he's mature and empathetic. I was crying when I was explaining to him some heart-breaking news about a friend's betrayal. C. Peevie put his arms around me and said the only thing that you can say under the circumstances: "I'm sorry, Mom."
Most adults don't even know how to express empathy in such a simple, effective way. Many people, when someone tells them something sad, try to fix the problem, or try to make the sadness go away with the right words. (I hate this fix-it tendency.) But not C. Peevie. He understands how to be with me in sadness, without trying to fix it. I adore that about him.
But then sometimes, he's not so mature. The other day I was working my office, and from C. Peevie's room I could hear his atonal voice repeating with a strange accent, "Hullaaaoooww? Hullaaaoooww?" over and over again.
I pushed open his door, and there he was, propped up on his bean bag denim lounger. He was holding up his cell phone to one ear, the home phone to his other ear--and he was talking to himself on the phone. "Hullaaaoooww? Hullaaaoooww?"
He looked over at me as his last "Hullaaaoooww" faded, and grinned a sheepish grin. "Hi," he said.
When he's within 15 feet of his younger siblings, his maturity level decreases by approximately 3.4 years--like water seeking its lowest level. Somehow, when C. Peevie is around, M. Peevie ends up crying and A. Peevie ends up screaming. They charge through the house screeching, "Maaaaaaahhhhhhhh-meeeeeeee! C. Peevie took my toy!" or "C. Peevie pushed me!"--but somehow, it's never C.P.'s fault. "Mom, I didn't do anything!" he insists. "I was just sitting there!"
How do you reconcile this maturity and immaturity under the same head of too-long, sticking-out-at-the-cowlick hair? Let me know if you have any secrets for parenting teens, because most of the time? I'm working without a script, here.